Eminent classical dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai on Sunday voiced disappointment over the “complete destruction of ideals” in the country, alleging that ‘Hindutva’ is being shoved down the throat of people in the name of Hinduism.
Hinduism is actually all about asking questions, the 68-year old Padma Bhusan awardee said during a session about her life, career and initiation into the world of dance, at the concluding day of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here. “What I am witnessing around today completely decimates me… Never had I thought there will be complete destruction of our ideals in India, and so many people blinded by the glory of advertisement and brand-building,” she said.
“It is so nice coming to Kolkata and actually seeing (people) of different religions living side by side... which I don’t see in a similar way in Gujarat, in Ahmedabad, where ghettoisation seems to be so complete,” Sarabhai said. She claimed that many of her friends are in jail, facing trial for asking questions, apparently referring to the arrests of some rights activists in recent times.
"Hinduism is all about asking questions, as manifested in our scriptures. Unfortunately, it is Hinduism in the form of Hindutva that is quoted to us and shoved (down the throat of people),” the noted dancer said. Sarabhai, who had essayed the role of Draupadi in Peter Brook's play ‘The Mahabharata’ in the 1980s, apart from acting in solo theatrical works ‘Shakti: The Power of Women’ and co-directing ‘Women with Broken Wings’, said Bengal is among the few states where pluralism still exists in society.
“Kolkata has always given me more love than any other part of the world”. Reacting to her comments, BJP leader Roopa Ganguly said Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life that is connected to nature. Hindutva is a Hindi word and Hinduism is a globally known English word. That is the only difference between the two expressions, Ganguly, a former Rajya Sabha MP, said. “About the ghettoisation comments, shall I ask her (Sarabhai) to go through the population chart of Gujarat and (charts) of all parts of India. As she specifically mentioned Gujarat, I would ask her to check how many people engaged in diamond cutting live there?
“Many of them are from Domjur in West Bengal and they are living peacefully in Surat. What she said is irrelevant,” asserted Ganguly, who is also an acclaimed actor. On Sarabhai’s remark about many of her friends being in jail for asking questions, Ganguly claimed she has herself faced media trial for putting forth questions against the West Bengal government.
“Madam, please find out how many cases of molestation and atrocities on women are unregistered in Bengal before talking. This much I would expect from such a great personality," the BJP leader added.